What is private data and how can you help protect it?

This post originally appeared in Equipment Connection, the Hartford Steam Boiler and Inspection Company’s (HSB) blog authored by Monique Ferrarro, Cyber Practice Counsel at HSB, .

Data Privacy Day is observed annually on January 28th. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices among consumers, organizations and anyone who deals with private information.

Hartford Steam Boiler is proud to be a National Cyber Security Alliance Data Privacy Day Champion for the second year. The National Cyber Security Alliance, is a non-profit, public-private partnership focused on cyber security education.

Below you’ll find information and tips to help you protect your online privacy and data. Remember, being aware is an essential part of keeping you and your personal information safe!

What is “private data?”

Human Resources isn’t the only department that maintains private information – it’s actually handled and held by most of us.

There are three types of private data:

  1. Business
  2. Customer
  3. Individual

Private business information includes non-disclosure agreements and all information covered by them, business intellectual property, information related to confidential internal company matters and all confidential information relating to clients and business partners.

Private customer information includes contracts with non-disclosure or secrecy clauses, policy and claims information and financial information related to clients and their transactions.

Private personal information includes a name in combination with a social security or financial account number. However, laws in several states use a much broader definition.

For example, Nevada and Rhode Island define personal information to include a username, email address, or a “unique identifier” to be personal information when combined with a password, security question and answer, or an access code for an online account.

Information related to citizens of other countries can have even broader legal protection. Any non-public information that can be used to identify a European Union citizen is private, including his or her business email address or IP address.

So, if you think about it, you probably deal with private information on a daily basis.

Why is protecting private information important to me?

Laws in forty-eight states, Canada, the European Union and other countries provide for regulatory action and can result in fines or civil litigation when private personal information is accessed or acquired without authorization. Unauthorized acquisition of private business information can result in substantial financial losses and reputational damage.

Cyber insurance can help cover the costs of a data breach

Prevention is always the best course of action. But people have accidents and sometimes our best efforts to secure information can be defeated by a computer virus or attack. Cyber insurance can cover many of the costs of a personal, client or business data breach. Consult your insurance broker for the right product for you.

Tips for securing private information

The following tips for securing private information come from the National Cyber Security Alliance, the organization behind Data Privacy Day.

Private data is like money. Value it. Protect it.

Think before you act: Be wary of communications that call on you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or ask for personal information.

More Data Security and Privacy Information for Businesses

You’ll find plenty of resources for business regarding personal IoT devices, information security, document destruction, compliance, data breach and risk management. The United States government also provides many resources for businesses.

Federal Trade Commission

StaySafeOnline

Federal Communications Commission

United States Small Business Administration

Homeland Security Small Business Resources

Author Carmen Duarte

More posts by Carmen Duarte

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